MinRex sees potential for standalone scandium mine in NSW

By Meagan Evans. Published at May 14, 2018, in Mining

MinRex Resources Limited (ASX:MRR) this morning updated shareholders on the pre-acquisition due diligence that’s currently underway on the Pacific Express project in NSW.

MRR assessed the extent of scandium mineralisation at the project in more detail, especially the prospect of developing a potential standalone deposit at the Houston Mitchell prospect, following the discovery of legacy metallurgical reports from circa 20 years ago.

Whist reviewing the historical tenure reports related to the Pacific Express project, the geology team found extensive legacy metallurgical studies based on test-work from three laboratories that utilised different techniques and generated varying results.

The test-work aimed to identify preliminary physical separation methods for ore to materially increase the head grade which, in turn, would reduce the volume of material to be processed while enriching the mineral fed into the proposed processing plants to extract scandium, cobalt and nickel.

It also aimed to vary chemical extraction methods to pin-point which technique resulted in recovering the highest proportions of scandium, cobalt and nickel, to enhance efficiency and maximise recovery.

Of course, as with all minerals exploration, success is not guaranteed — consider your own personal circumstances before investing, and seek professional financial advice.

All up, four rounds of metallurgical tests were conducted. The key finding were summarised as follows:

Houston Mitchell prospect samples (within Pacific Express project)

  • Testing completed on a high-grade sample (60ppm Sc) to assess the recovery of scandium with encouraging early recovery results of up to 70%.
  • Based on these results, the view from the metallurgy report at the time was the Houston Mitchell prospect had the potential to be developed into a standalone scandium deposit.
  • MRR’s geology team are currently evaluating occurrences of scandium-rich material. This potentially could result in scandium-rich mineral resources being defined separately to nickel-cobalt ones which dominate throughout the tenure.
  • Further, the geology team have observed that scandium is enriched nearer to surface, while cobalt-nickel mineralisation is deeper within the laterite.
  • Moving forward, the geology team aim to identify potential stand-alone scandium mineralised zones, which may partially or completely overlie deeper cobalt-nickel mineralised zones in the laterite.

Hurll’s Hill prospect samples (outside Pacific Express project)

  • Possibility of increasing the head grade up to 4,500ppm cobalt by screening to separate by sizing the upper limonitic zone and rejecting the marginal ore to waste. MRR’s geology team consider prospects identified within the tenure to have the potential to be similarly upgraded though future exploration and bulk sampling.
  • Chemical extractions of metals varied vertically and ranged up to 96% for cobalt and 94% for nickel.
  • A technical observation from the time is that Hurll’s Hill has significant potential to be developed into a major scandium, cobalt, and nickel laterite project.
  • Pre-selected targets within the Pacific Express project have similar geology to Hurll’s Hill, which indicate there is potential exploration upside to evaluate the prospects with modern exploration and assay methods.

The next step at the Houston Mitchell prospect is for external consultants to thoroughly review all legacy metallurgical data and test-work then summarise key findings. This project knowledge can materially aid fast-tracking future mining studies.

Any incremental metallurgical testing will now apply modern testing techniques to ensure maximum metal recovery from future lateritic exploration and/or bulk samples to boost confidence a potential viable standalone scandium deposit can be developed.

MRR will also begin modelling legacy data to ascertain if a Mineral Resource can be estimated for scandium-cobalt-nickel and reported to the JORC (2012) code.

MRR Executive Director, Simon Durack said: “Clearly, the due diligence team have uncovered a prospective game-changer for the Pacific Express project, with legacy metallurgical test-work verifying the potential to develop a standalone scandium deposit. Moreover, it is pleasing to note Boeing’s early interest in scandium alloys, as the future take-up rate from the aviation industry is set to grow materially over the next two decades. While the Board looks forward to receiving the geology team’s final report and recommendation, the legacy metallurgical evidence clearly confirms there is material exploration upside for the Pacific Express project.”

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